History and the Conservative mind

I've never been a Conservative, even before the British Conservative Party reached its current grotesque form. I say "even before", because the Conservatism that prevailed through much of the 20th century was less obviously grotesque. Until Margaret Thatcher came along Conservatism had settled into a kind of pragmatism essentially laid down by Disraeli (for the... Continue Reading →

After Life, Brexit and the sad comedy of self-delusion

Ricky Gervais’ big comic insight was the way the dreams we all need to sustain ourselves quickly shade into self-delusion. It’s an idea with history (the sad comedy of Billy Liar, Steptoe and Son and others) and has plenty of vitality in it yet. After Life walks a tightrope by continuing to work this comic... Continue Reading →

Corporate communication: three cardinal sins

Here are three common but cardinal sins in business communication: Vacuous cliché Corporate boasting Talking about yourself (when you’re supposed to be focused on other people). I’m going to use a piece of coronavirus-related communication to show that I’m not making this up. A couple of days ago, reporting the collaboration between two big Pharma... Continue Reading →

Rent v innovation pt 2

Having complained about software companies' arbitrary and self-serving redefinition of what it is to buy a product, I wanted to reflect on the alternatives. I work from home as a freelance writer, so I have more choice about the software I use than the average corporate bod. I also have to pay for it for... Continue Reading →

Rent v innovation: software leads the charge

Software companies' behaviour over licensing epitomises the problematic emergence of extractive capitalism, with trust becoming a growing problem for business. In the early days of the current phase of personal computing, there was some legal clarity about what kind of "thing" software was: it was like a book. You could buy a copy, and use... Continue Reading →

What next with Brexit #437

In the light of recent developments it seems worth making a few non-partisan points about the state we’re in. I say non-partisan. I’m unashamedly against Brexit, but this piece isn’t an argument for or against. Rather it’s an attempt to make sense of a changed reality. We now have an ironic situation where a vote... Continue Reading →

Diversity, identity and brand

The disciplines demanded by a diversity programme make a better starting point for behavioural or cultural change than top-down brand communication Brand thinking has mostly emphasised uniformity as a guiding principle for staff behaviour, organised around a set of declared brand values. The aim is to ensure that brand-supportive behaviour is embedded deep in the... Continue Reading →

When’s that Brexit train a-comin’?

Making political predictions in the current environment seems foolhardy, not least because much could change come the party conference season in the early autumn: Theresa May could be replaced, and Labour could be forced to back Remain. I wouldn't bet on either but in any case here I'm going to try to unpick reality from... Continue Reading →

Four thoughts on good writing

This may be the beginning of an occasional series, building I hope to a useful reflection on the craft of writing. 1 If you want to be a good (or better writer) the best single thing you can do is read widely and carefully. It's obvious, but not said so often: in order to write... Continue Reading →

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